LAURINBURG — Camryn Massey, a 15-year-old sophomore at Scotland Early College High School, wants people to give poetry a try.
Massey was selected as a participant in the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series. The program partners distinguished poets and student poets from the central regions of North Carolina.
Student poets were selected from middle school, high school, college, and adults not currently enrolled in school. Distinguished poets mentor selected student poets in writing and revising a dozen pages of poetry and coach them in the craft of oral presentation.
Massey said her English teacher Zachary Ferguson inspired her to get into poetry.
“I showed him an example of my poetry and recommended I apply and thought I had enough talent to do it,” she said. “I wrote poetry when I was in middle school and I was too shy to share it. Now I’ve realized it’s an alternative way to express yourself.”
Th poet series paired Massey with Beth Copeland, a creative writing professor at St. Andrews University. Copeland is the author of three full-length poetry books: Blue Honey, Transcendental Telemarketer and Traveling through Glass. Her poems have been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies and have been featured on international poetry websites. She has been profiled as poet of the week on the PBS NewsHour website.
“My mentor Beth helped me develop 10 poems, we would meet out of school and give me suggestions about how to make my poetry better or enrich it. She would show me different ways I could format it,” Massey said. “I learned more ways to write poetry and more topics that I wouldn’t I never knew I could do an ode to a simple object.”
Massey said her favorite format to write in is quatrains, which features four lines that alternate in rhyme. So, the first and third lines have a word that rhymes with each other, as do the second and fourth.
“Each part of the stanza might have its own part of the story, each phase they connect to each other to create a whole picture,” she said.
As part of the program, Massey and Copeland held a poetry reading at Scotland Memorial Library recently where both read their work to members of the community.
The topics of her poems vary depending on what is happening in her life and in the nation. Massey would like people her age to give poetry a chance, she said it’s not that different from the music they listen to.
“It isn’t as bad as it seems, it’s like a song, when you plug in your earbuds,” Massey said. “It had rhythm and heart and soul. You make it special to you and that’s how songs are made. You can’t limit yourself. Everyone it interprets it in their own way and that’s why I find poetry so beautiful.”
The North Carolina Poetry Society’s Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series was a spring board according to Massey and helped her discover another part of herself.
“I never thought anyone would be interested in my poetry, it’s honoring,” she said.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]